Guest post by Ken Mueller
Whether it’s marketing or public relations, I often have people tell me:
“It’s different for me. I’m in B2B, not B2C. Social Media won’t work for me.”
To that I say, “Poppycock! Horsefeathers! Balderdash! Codswallop! Fiddlesticks! Tommyrot!” And I might even throw in a “Baloney!”
OK, I don’t really say that, but I want to. And I’m fully aware that not everyone “gets it” yet.
You see, many B2Bs actually have TWO opportunities for using Social Media to drive engagement and sales.
The first way is the traditional way, but remembering that you really aren’t a “B” dealing with another “B.” You aren’t a “B” at all. You are a person. Your business is made up of people.
And of course that “B” with which you are dealing is made up of people as well. You deal with individuals within the business. Individuals who very well may be on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. They read blogs, they surf the web, and they send and receive emails.
So your social media efforts can target them in much the same way a B2C targets its customers.
But there’s another way, which can work for many B2B’s and it’s what I call the “B2B end-around.” You see, many B2Bs have customers on the other side. They are the middle men, selling your products to the end-user. You spend a lot of time calling on the business, trying to get them to buy your product.
But at the same time you are doing that, you can also be doing the B2B end-around. Here’s how it works:
Let’s say you manufacture office furniture. You don’t sell directly to the end user, but to retailers and office furniture/office supply stores.
Rather than just trying to get the stores to carry your product, why not put some pressure on them from the other side? Even if you don’t sell directly to the “C,” go after them.
While you’re pushing on one side, have the customers push from the other. If they are going to the dealer asking for your furniture, your job is that much easier. Create the demand.
Of course much of this is based on you manufacturing a great product and standing behind it.
Get the word out about your product. Go directly around the other “B” to their “C,” so that the “C” tells the other “B” that they want to buy what your “B” has to offer. Got that?
Use social media to create demand from both sides. Find creative ways to reach both groups of people. You might just have to maximize your efforts on your social media properties, or in some cases might have to create separate social approaches to each.
But be creative, and don’t tell me social media won’t work for you. Understand that you have two separate audiences and you can go after both of them.
Have you found any creative ways of getting your end-users to advocate for you?
Image: Andy Carvin via Flickr, CC 2.0
Ken Mueller is the owner of Inkling Media, a Social Media and Inbound Marketing sole proprietorship in Lancaster, Pa. In addition to being the hippest cat on the planet, Ken loves working with small businesses and non-profits. He also loves sports, music, and reading. He can be found working from his front porch with his trusty sidekick, Shadow, a 100-lb Chocolate Lab.
Ken — you’ll need no delightfully quaint expressions for me, I’m a big believer in b2b social media tactics, as well as b2g. And there’s no doubt that push/pull marketing is the nirvana we are all working towards.
How do you quantify this kind of end-around for clients, and prove its working? My clients are very interested in having ROI proven.
Ken, I’m late (sorry!) – but better late than never, right? You know I loved this post, and I actually referenced it when I was speaking in NE last week. I remember talking with someone a while back about how social media has changed our world, and she said they don’t focus on “B2B” or “B2C” but “B2E” – business to everyone. I thought that nailed it.
I also think it bears mentioning that some kind of social media presence is all but expected of any business these days, be it B2B or B2C or B2Boulderdash. (See what I did there?) Any time I browse a business online and find that they don’t have a Facebook page, at the very least, my suspicion sense starts tingling.
@EmmaofCEM I have to admit, as a Social Media person, I do the same thing. I doubt I would do that if I were in any other field. But I’m always looking not only for their presence, but how they are using it.
You forgot to add “bullhonky” but I’ll take baloney ;)
While I don’t deal with B2B, it’s refreshing to see new perspectives on how even that sector of marketing and communications can make use of social media. I think many still think it’s only for major consumer brands and celebrities, but there’s a huge potential to connect with consumers and even businesses through social media. Great post, Ken!
@Krista dang, I knew I forgot some! And I really think we are still only scratching the surface of what Social Media has to offer. It’s an exciting time.